Okanagan – Agricultural Water Supply Status Communication Pilot [ok02]
|Status||completed in 2017|
|Project Lead||Okanagan Basin Water Board|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Okanagan Basin Water Board|
As warmer and drier summers increase the vulnerability of local water supplies to drought, the need for water purveyors to convey timely information about the state of the local water supply to their agricultural water users is increasingly vital. Producers rely on this information to prepare for, and respond to, local conditions and to enact water conservation measures. The Okanagan Basin’s water supply is managed by over 50 different water purveyors, making drought communication between provincial, municipal and local water authorities and their agricultural water users complex. Discrepancies between provincial drought messaging and water supplies at the local purveyor level can lead to confusion among agricultural water users about the actual state of the local water supply.
To address the challenges of drought status communications, the Okanagan Agricultural Water Supply Status Communication Pilot Project worked with two pilot water purveyors in the Okanagan (Greater Vernon Water and the City of Penticton) during the 2017 growing season to develop, test and assess new communications messages and mechanisms between purveyors and their agricultural water users. In addition to working through traditional communications channels (e.g. local media, purveyor websites, water-turn on letters, etc.) agricultural producers could register to receive electronic communications messages from their water provider (via email, text message or voice message). A Communications Checklist and Key Messages Document was developed to assist purveyors with developing and sending out communications. To help facilitate the adoption of effective and consistent methods for communicating with agricultural water users about water status throughout the Okanagan Basin, these documents, along with the pilot project Summary Report, are now available to water purveyors across the region. Okanagan water purveyors can also work with the Okanagan Basin Water Board to obtain free access to the E-alert software.